Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Partners for Smart Growth arrive in the Emerald City February 4-6, 2010

Conference is being held next week in Seattle. The conference will tackle the balancing of environmental, economic and livability issues in our cities and towns necessary in order for the Pacific Northwest to continue being a most desirable place to live and work. Seattle was chosen due in part to its being named one of the top 10 green cities in the U.S. by National Geographic’s “The Green Guide”, (2005). In addition, the Seattle area has a variety of healthy, walkable, bicycle and transit friendly, livable towns and cities that will are models for the rest of North America making Seattle a very desirable venue for such a conference.

Last year the conference was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico and was heralded as a huge success bringing together local elected officials, city and county staff, landscape architects, developers and builders, planners, transportation professionals and traffic engineers, public health professionals, architects, bankers, realtors, urban designers, parks and recreation professionals, school superintendents and board members and facilities staff, environmentalists and a host of civic advocates.

The conference will include “a dynamic mix of plenaries, breakouts, implementation workshops, specialized trainings, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and coordinated networking activities”. Most exciting will be the tour of local model projects in Seattle and the greater Puget Sound Region. This tour includes cities and towns such as Kirkland, Mercer Island, Mill Creek, Snohomish, Highpoint, Bainbridge and others. Overall there will be information and examples that will interest just about everyone with close to 90 sessions and workshops, tours and a wide variety of speakers. Registration is still open for the conference.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Making changes in 2010

Another new year has arrived and with it come resolutions for a healthier, happier more financially stable you. Some of the most popular resolutions are: Get in Shape, Lose Weight, Save Money, Buy a house and help others…

Every year, the resolution part is relatively easy, however it is the follow through that is most difficult. In my opinion, the reason we often do not achieve our resolutions is simple, we demand too much from ourselves. Creating a list of 20 life changing resolutions to accomplish in a year is easy on paper, but difficult if not impossible in our already hectic day to day life and will ultimately result in disappointment. So be real, focus on what is truly important and put together a specific yet simple plan that you can achieve. List out the small interim steps that will help you achieve your goal and will serve as a map to getting results. Make sure to put this plan somewhere you see it often and take necessary time each day to review it and determine where you are at and what is next. Most importantly stay positive and keep moving in the right direction.

So how does this relate to “walkable communities” you ask? As I stated at the beginning the most widely held resolutions are always: get in shape, buy a house, save money and get out of debt. A simple way to achieve a couple of the top ten resolutions is to make some minor changes in your lifestyle that over time will result in these outcomes. For example, instead of going to the gym which will only cost you additional money, resolve to ride your bike or walk to work. Start with just 2 to 3 days a week and build from there. This seemingly simple change will save you money, provide the exercise you need, help the environment, reduce traffic and increase your quality of life.

In Bellevue, City officials have recognized this demand and are working to make commuting via bike and feet safer, easier and faster. In the fall of 2009 City Planners conducted a survey of walkers and riders and found that a majority of them were commuting to work, (66 and 77 percent respectively). The study found the median length of commute approximately one mile for pedestrians and nine miles for cyclists. As a result, the City plans to make changes to infrastructure to further increase the safety and capacity of streets to handle the expected increase of pedestrian and cyclists commuters.

Oh, and one of my resolutions is to update this blog at least once a week so look for upcoming posts!!